The Bearcats pulled off a major victory tonight as they upended the Bears from the University of Pikeville 5-3 in action at Kamuf Park. It was a huge night as it represented the first win in over two seasons. Of all the players on the squad, only juniors Haley Coons (JR/Owensboro, KY) and Jessica Embry (JR/Owensboro, KY) were on the field the last time the Bearcats won. So it was a night to celebrate in many ways.
The Bearcats jumped out to a 1-0 lead 15 minutes into the game as Nicole Gray (JR/Waterloo, IA) found daylight down the left side and played a great shot that bounced off the keeper straight to Kassi Gilbert (SO/Lebanon Junction, KY) who played it into the back of the net. The Bearcats took the 1-0 lead into the locker room for half and things looked good.
The first five minutes of the second half looked way to familiar. Two minutes into the second half, Reagan Bridge got open from 30 yards out and hit one into the goal. Two minutes later, Skylar Chapman found the back of the net again and it looked like another long night.
Two minutes later, the Bearcats had an indirect kick from just outside the box on the end line. Jessica Embry took the kick and played a hard ball in the Sierra Tomblin (SO/Orlinda, TN) was able to net to tie the score. Nine minutes later, Michaela Knight worked through the middle of the field and found Kassi Gilbert free up the right side for her second goal of the night. Chapman then scored again to tie the score and finish the scoring for the Bears, Gilbert got a ball at midfield and was able to outpace the defense to the net for her 3rd goal, her first game winning goal of her career and the first "Hat Trick" for the Bearcats in at least 8 years. With less than one-minute left, Gilbert put her fourth goal in for the night on an assist from Haley Coons.
The one thing that really changed tonight for the ladies was finally putting together 90 total minutes. Coach David Ralph was asked after the game what allowed the team to get their first win in over two years. "Kassi had a great game, but this was a total team effort. We received a great scouting report and really felt we could get Kassi behind their defense. Our team played unselfish and found the gaps to play her. The other thing that does not make it into the box score is how strongly our defense played all night. Jessica Embry, Sierra Tomblin and Abby Logsdon (FR/New Salisbury, IN) neutralized their main offensive threat. Jerrica Kidd (SR/Stanford, KY) has been in a great zone for a while and continued to excel. In addition, I really have to commend our back four. At halftime, we talked about them closing the gap to support the offense. Desirae Renfrow (SR/Beaver Dam, KY), Hannah Brown (SO/Portage, IN), Allison Chappell (SO/Owensboro, KY) and Geralyn Smith (FR/Cincinnati, OH) all stepped much higher in the second half to alleviate Pikeville from receiving easy balls toward midfield to start their offense. That was the difference in the second half. I was scared after two goals within two minutes, but the ladies righted their play tonight and took a huge step forward. We have been playing much better recently and I knew it was just a matter of time before we had our first win. Now it is time to get number two."
The Bearcats will go for their second win on Saturday at 1:30pm at Kamuf Park against Cincinnati Clermont.